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If a Republican elections commissioner has his way, four suburban towns will vote the old-fashioned way Nov. 4 -- on paper ballots.

A partisan battle over the November general election ballot has prompted Republicans to press for paper ballots in Amherst, Clarence, Orchard Park and West Seneca.

Stymied by the courts, Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr is arguing that paper ballots may be a good alternative to the voting machine.

The checkerboard pattern on the voting machines is confusing, Mohr claims. Supreme Court Justice Joseph D. Mintz has rejected his request for changes in the machine ballot.

Mohr's actions have delayed the mailing of absentee ballots, and, with further court action pending, final approval of voting-machine ballots may take time.

In some cases -- all Republican, it turns out -- candidates like Amherst's Robert C. Simmons or Orchard Park's Paul Barnas appear well-separated from their fellow party members.

Mohr wants to bunch them closer together and claims extra voting levers can be blocked out.

Barring that, he wants paper ballots used in those four towns.

Democrats are fighting back.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Laurence F. Adamczyk wants Mohr cited for contempt of court and will appear Tuesday in Supreme Court, according to Dennis Ward, an election law lawyer and a Democratic candidate for County Legislature in Amherst.

"We (Legislature candidates) don't have a problem, but the town candidates in those four towns do," Ward said. "Obviously, the Democrats don't have the same problems that Republican candidates do. If they did, I'm sure Adamczyk would be the one complaining."

Right now, the ballot in the four suburbs looks like a crossword puzzle, the result of state Election Law and the drawing for ballot positions.

To vote a "straight party" line, a voter must pull down all the levers on one of several recognized party lines. Voters also may split votes among parties.

The election law says a candidate's name should appear in a way that would prevent a voter from voting more than once for the candidate.

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